"With a title like FANGS, you just know it's about...bats."
A suitable horror movie for 13-year-olds who think they love horror movies, but are too scared (and probably too young) to appreciate the nastier entries, "Fangs" offers literally nothing new to the nature-run-amok sub-genre aside from a shocking similarity to another low-minded horror flick, one creatively entitled "Bats".Though both films focus on the physical and sociological effects that a flock of genetically mutated (and pissed off) bats have on a sleepy Midwestern burg, the flicks have two discernable differences: Bats had a higher budget and (amazingly) found its way into your local multiplex, while Fangs is its cable TV cousin – one that couldn’t afford mega-watt talent like Lou Diamond Philips and Dina Meyer and therefore had to settle for Corbin Bernsen and Tracy Nelson. The second difference is that of humor. Bats had very little (of the intentional sort, anyway), while Fangs offers truckloads of haw-haw style schtick that should absolutely incite giggles in anyone watching (anyone under 12, that is).
I’m not certain there’s a new way to properly encapsulate a plot this old and overused, but I’ll try it backwards: A few people survive. There’s a big explosion. Several more people get eaten by bats. We find out that a local businessman is wholly responsible for the bloodbath. A handful of people get eaten by bats. We’re introduced to a masculine lady sheriff and a stunningly effeminate male veterinarian. Opening credits. Quick bat attack.
Fans of schlock cinema may have noticed Corbin Bernsen’s name on the credits, and those who admire the work of this modern master of B-movie mayhem (The Dentist, anyone?) will undoubtedly enjoy his turn here. Only the 14,545th movie character in history to ape the Murray Hamilton role from Jaws (“Ignore the deaths! I have a beach / campground / housing development / strip mall to worry about!”), Bernsen chews into his stock character with almost palpable glee – which is great, because every other actor onscreen looks as if they’re mired in some form of narcolepsy.
Longtime TV actress Tracy Nelson (who can frequently be found hovering about in various Olsen Twin productions) is suitably bland and tiresome as a bland and tiresome lady cop, and Whip Hubley (Species) delivers one of the most unintentionally hilarious performances that I’ve seen in about two weeks. (I watch a lot of bad movies.) I couldn’t tell if Hubley is a gay actor playing a straight veterinarian or a straight actor effectively playing a gay veterinarian – but the script does call for a romantic subplot between the vet and the cop, so you do the math.
Look, I’m a HUGE fan of movies in which animals go nuts and devour human beings, and lots of the ones I enjoy are pretty (Spiders) damn (Ticks) crappy (Grizzly) – but this particular one is a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox. Even those who delight in the lowest-rent beastie buffets will find very little to sustain their horror freak cravings, and the constant (and consistently dismaying) attempts at cornball humor only manage to further pigeonhole this one as the bland, generic, and anemic cable flick it is.As an EARLY introduction to horror movies (I’m talking for like 8-year-olds) it might be worthy of a look